Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Miami school gets One Laptop Per Child to help raise digital literacy

Jan. 27, 2012, 11:19 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

“How can you pretend you’re actually educating people to live in the 21st century if you’re not making them smart digitally?” asks Knight Foundation President and CEO Alberto Ibargüen.

That’s why more than 500 kids received brand-new laptops this morning at a school in Miami.

The distribution of the laptops at the Liberty City elementary school are part of an ongoing effort to level the digital playing field for its students.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho, Rodrigo A. Halaby, chairman and chief executive officer of One Laptop Per Child, and Knight Foundation President and CEO Alberto Ibargüen presented 525 laptops - one per child - at Holmes Elementary this morning.

On the importance of providing digital access for children, Carvalho said:

"Empowering students with a laptop opens them to a world of opportunity and digital content that allows them to conduct learning 24/7 from anywhere. This represents the moral imperative of our generation: to erase the digital divide that separates children from those that have access and those that don't."

The XO laptops, which are designed specifically for primary school children, are provided by One Laptop Per Child, with support from Knight Foundation.

The XO laptop was created at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Innovations in technology allowed them to develop a low-cost computer that is durable and easy to use.

The laptops, which are about the size of a small textbook and lighter than a lunchbox, have built-in wireless capability and are energy-efficient. The laptops also easily assume several configurations, including standard laptop use, e-book reading and gaming.

Along with the laptops, One Laptop Per Child announced it would provide hands-on training at the school for parents, teachers and students on how to use the computers to advance each student’s learning.

The laptops, which come equipped with tools that will allow students to follow their teacher’s work on their laptop in real time, also enable more opportunities for collaboration on student projects.

One Laptop Per Child is also assisting in creating a localized curriculum that helps kids meet their academic benchmarks.  

The laptops and digital training are part of a variety of tools and resources that are being used to enhance teaching and learning in the school. Providing support for programs to teach digital and media literacy to communities is a Knight Foundation priority.

"In the world we live in now if you do not have digital access you are a second-class citizen. We want every one of these kids to be first-class kids. We want every one of you to be the best you can be, economically, socially and politically. And the other thing is, it is really a lot of fun," said Ibargüen. 

One Laptop Per Child aims to provide children around the world access to new channels of learning, sharing and self-expression, through a rugged, low-cost, low-power connected laptop that empowers individual learning and growth. 

Holmes Elementary was selected for the program because it is currently working with the Knight-funded Teach for America program to enhance student performance.

In 2009, Knight provided funding to triple the amount of Teach for America partners in Miami-Dade - bringing the number of teachers to 350.